Pretty as a picture, flashy buttons, square buttons, round buttons or will they match my shoes, my handbag or my tie? Are you stuck in the design mode of buttons, headings, bullets, sub-headings and color schemes? Well, STOP, Take a deep breath and read some quick practical tips for professional looking websites.
1) Select a color scheme and stick to it.
If your company has a logo or preferred colors on its stationery that is a good starting place. If your company is starting from scratch, choose two or three complementary colors and stick with them and don’t change colors on every page.
The most common color schemes include:
- Red, yellow and white
- Blue and white
- Red, grey and white
- Blue, orange and white
- Yellow, grey and white.
Extra Tip: Not sure what color scheme to choose! Then surf the web and find a website that you like. You can then model your color scheme on what already exists and looks good.
2) Use templates.
Can’t find a website you really like? Another option is to choose a template. There are many templates or pre-set designs. These can come as part of your web design software (such as Dreamweaver) or you can check out a website that specializes in designing templates.
3) Provide an easy to use navigation system.
This is an important issue to consider when designing a website. You need to ensure your visitors can find what they are looking for easily. Most websites either display their navigation bar on the left or at the top. And since most people are used to this type of navigation, it’s best to stick with it.
It also helps to include your navigation bar at the bottom of each page to save your visitors from having to scroll back to the top.
4) Don’t go overboard on special effects
While it is ok to have special effects to jazz up your website, spinning graphics and logos more often than not will distract your visitor from the content, not to mention they can take too long to load. You have about 30 seconds to get your visitor’s attention so you don’t want your visitors clicking away even before your spinning logo finishes loading.
Make sure your visitors can read the text on the background, i.e. no black writing on dark blue background or yellow on white. Also be careful that your links are visible before and after being visited. The default for links in most programs is blue (before being visited) and burgundy (after being visited), so if you have a dark background, make sure your links are light-colored.
6) External Links
Keeping your visitors on your site is the goal here, so it is a good idea to open links to other websites in a new window. That way your visitors can easily return to your site when they are finished browsing the external link.
7) Site Map & Search Feature
No matter the size of your site, it is useful for SEO to have a site map or a “Search” feature to ensure your visitors can easily find what they’re looking for and search engines to find your site.
8) Content is King
In this day and age, while it is important that your website looks clean and professional, it is far more important that you concentrate your efforts on the content and promotion.
If you want a professional website, things to stay away from include:
- Flash intros, revolving globes, beveled line separators, animated mail boxes
- Loads of pop up or pop under boxes
- Auto play music. Allow your customer to play music only if they choose.
- Hit counters of the free variety, which say “you are 123456th visitor”
- Date and time stamps, unless your website is updated daily or weekly
- Busy backgrounds.
Now don’t sweat the small stuff and get yourself on task and focus on what to include on the website and the best way to promote it.